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Confessions of a Poker Player – Overplaying with a big stack

November 6 admin

Confessions of a Poker Player – Overplaying with a big stack pre-bubble

Today was probably one of the hardest poker days I have had because I played myself out of the WSOP circuit Main Event. I was going into Day 2, within top 50 in chips and as embarrassing as this is to write, Im going to just share it because it can happen to anyone.

I had so much on the line because if I made final table I would be River Rock Casino Champion of this WSOPc Vancouver series, which means I get a ticket to New Orleans to a $10,000 freeroll for $1million. I already had one chance and lost to a flip the other day, taking 3rd in event #6 when my AQ lost to pocket 10s. Now today I needed to make final table in the main and I fell short… and painfully.

Looking back on my play today, I feel sick about the turn of events that lead to my poker meltdown, but in analyzing my hands, I am not sure if I was just unlucky or if I was just completely off in another world.

Did I play bad? Did I play good? Is it just variance? 

I am blogging this so my fellow poker mates can comment and I will have my own personal analysis of my play at the end of this blog.

The Downward Spiral 

So I am sitting quite pretty with $160k. I feel comfortable and I came to play poker and did not feel like I wanted to just coast to the money with 60 people to go into the bubble. I had wanted to put some pressure on the smaller stacks to build my chips to make good contention to make final table. This is probably problem #1: I was looking too far down the road. I never play tournaments to just min-cash but in further analysis maybe setting the min-cash mentality as a first milestone is the best way to go about it in bigger events. (I don’t think I will make this mistake again, but I really hate [and won’t ever] play scared money)

Here are the sequence of hands that took me out of the tournament pre-bubble. 

Critical Hand 1: Stack $160k. Blinds are $1000/$2000 – $400 antes. Everyone folded, I see AJs on the button. I raise it $5500, SB goes all in for $21,000, BB folds. I think about it, and decide to race for another $16,000 as I had the chips. He has AKo.  (Would you fold here? Rhetorical question… I know I can’t)

Critical Hand 2: Stack $145k. Aggressive mid position raiser with about $130k stack, raises $5500, He has done this 2 times this orbit already, and I look down to see Q-10s diamonds in the cutoff. I reraise to $11,500… and everyone folds and he ships all in. I tank, and fold. My reasoning was that he has 8-10 previously and he was stealing everything. I wanted to make a stand, but failed miserably cause I obviously can’t call my stack off with Q-10, even if he was on a bluff.

Critical Hand 3: Now I have about $130k. Blinds are $2000/$4000 – $500 antes.  Everyone folds and I am in the button with AQo. I raise $11,000, SB folds, BB- calls. Flop comes all diamonds, 5-3-10. It gets check, I do a continuation bet of $8000. He smooth calls me. Turn a brick… he checks, I check. River the 7 of diamonds… now there is a 4 cards to a flush, and he checks, and Im thinking he’s weak and I try to semi-bluff this with no diamond in my hand and try to make it look like a value bet: $12,500. He ends up snap calling me with a 4-2 of diamonds in his hand. Wow – that was an ill-timed bluff cause he had it the whole way and no way he was getting off that hand no matter what I had. If anything, he just got lucky I didn’t have a diamond in my hand or he would have paid me off.

Critical Hand 4: After a orbit or so, I have $90k. Again the same guy that is raising my button every time, I look down and see QJs. I call his $11,000 re-raise $16,000 more to try to take it down right there. Again he ships me all-in and I tank fold. This was a really close call… I was on the fence about shipping here, soooo very close. He later tells me he had Queens. (Should I have just flatted here due to previous play? I guess folding is an option…but god, I hate folding, especially to a LAG)

Critical Hand 5: I am down to about $60k and BB is now $5000, so Im just waiting for a hand to ship all in. I am on the button with 77, and UTG min-raises and I go all in. He has AQ and hits his A on the flop. No 7 comes and Im out. (Probably my worse play of the bunch, but Im obviously on tilt right now and needed a miracle turn around to change momentum – I think this is a good spot cause there is money in the pot, and still have a bit of fold equity – he was only holding AQ afterall and I was ahead mathematically)

Wow… that was not a good run. 

I go to the lounge to drown my sorrows in white wine and play some open-face chinese poker and win. Why can’t I run good when I needed it? Sigh…

It’s nice to have friends that understand how tough/lonely busting out of a tournament can be. Tournament poker is definitely not for the weak-hearted. I was told you can give yourself a set time limit like 4 hours to get over it, then you have to let it go. It’s 11pm, I have officially let it go — this blog post helped by turning a negative into a positive.

Lessons learned
– Get rid of the ego!
– Set small milestones and reach those first before even thinking of final table. Eg. Make the money first!
– Practice patience rather than moves during the main event. Save the ‘unsure’ and creative type plays for smaller buy-ins and test there.
– Just because you have a read on someone, doesn’t meant it’s your job to look them up with mediocre holdings.
– Be tighter with calls
– Use betting to get information
– Stop bleeding chips, stay consistent with min.raises for information
– Don’t be hard on yourself and learn something from your mistakes (+1 XP)
– Losing to flips suck, but playing bad sucks even worse.
– Bubble time is probably not a good time to bluff on the river!

Personal analysis & closing comments

I don’t blame anyone but my overly aggressive play and ego. Nothing I tried worked, and although I dont think I played extremely bad, I probably just needed to get more lucky on flops, get better with my bet sizing and be more patient with my hand selection/spots.

I keep telling myself this is just part of the process and it just wasn’t my time. I know at any point these hands could have went the other way as well but it just didn’t go my way. I think also learning to switch gears at different points of the tournament is also critical and maybe I was just pushing too hard to make it all come together when I should calm down and let the game flow.

Anyhow, nothing I can do now. It’s in the books and I will be on-to the next tomorrow Event 8 & hopefully will run better and give myself some redemption. I will use the next event to prove to myself that I can play solid poker and have emotional control over this game. The journey continues… as much as it hurts to run-bad/play-bad, the only way I will lose is if I let it get to me for too long, not learn from it and give up.

I refuse to give up.

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